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Will the huge stimulus package do the job?

   WASHINGTON -- Another $116.44 million in federal aid for Erie County schools sounds good, right?

   But local education officials aren't so sure.

   "This will have no bearing on our general fund," said Buffalo School Superintendent James Williams.

   "This is a two-year one-shot, so we have to spend it wisely," lest schools create more expensive programs that they will end up having to fund themselves when the federal gift expires, said Donald A. Ogilvie, superintendent of Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Education Services.

   The trouble, it seems, is that the school aid is targeted to underperforming students, special education and construction -- and doesn't give districts any flexibility on how to spend the money.

   Aides to Sen. Charles E. Schumer said districts can expect other money under the federal stimulus bill to help them with their fiscal woes.

   But you have to wonder if the criticism from the local school officials poses an important question:

   Is this $825 billion stimulus plan moving too far too fast?

   -- Jerry Zremski


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